Today, during my lunch-time musings, I was thinking again about keeping my word. I had 2 social engagements today with people I don't see often - they conflicted time-wise, of course, but I did manage to do both. Both engagements were with people from my past and I miss them so much. We are all just leading our lives.
One friend is living his dream which necessitates him living in another state. I'm so proud of him and thrilled for him that he is following his inner compass towards the work and relationships that make him soar. And I miss him. The gathering today is an "old home week" kind of thing - complete comfort, lots of laughs and that feeling that we have never been apart - any of us. The friend who left was the glue that kept us together - now we are just living our grown up, adult, responsible lives - not in a bad way - it just is.
My other friend is my best friend from high school - it is her birthday today. She turned 40. Another friend from high school, whose birthday is on Sunday, was also celebrating his birthday with her - a good reason for a party. I wasn't able to attend a celebration she had in January due to illness, so I definitely didn't want to miss today's celebration.
The birthday party started at 4:00pm and was set to continue until midnight to celebrate on both their special days. I had decided to go to the birthday party first but when I got there and I saw all the cars, I just couldn't go in. I knew there were BUNCHES of people there that I don't know and I just couldn't get over the squirmy feeling I had about it. Plus I was running late and would only be able to stay an hour or so. I reread the invitation and it definitely said it would be going until midnight. I went on to the gathering with my out-of-town friend who was visiting.
We had a nice dinner with lots of laughs and rehashing of old stories. It was good but also bittersweet as we are no longer able to do this weekly like we did 10 years ago. I drove to my birthday friend's house and then I was suddenly attacked by doubts - "what if they didn't really want people to come late -- even though it said late-comers welcome. Maybe they won't have missed me anyway...I could just call tomorrow..." The demons were really in my head.
As I sat outside the house, I saw the lights were on, there were a couple of cars outside and I thought, "What's the worst that can happen? They can say the party just ended naturally and send me on my way...At least they will know that I came and kept my word that I would be there." I got out of the car and went to the door. There were signs that said, "Come in. Please come in," so I tapped lightly and opened the door. My friends smiled and welcomed me. As I was coming in the door, my best friend from high school said, "I was just complaining that you hadn't made it and here you are!" She had no rancour in her voice, no censure. She hugged me and we had a lovely time.
A note about working on becoming myself (from the quote): I gave my girlfriend a copy of "Life is a Verb" (and a bag of Lindor chocolates). When her husband asked me what it was, I explained how Patti Digh, the author, had experienced the death of her step-father from cancer in a matter of days and that she had begun writing a series of essays and this book was a collection of those essays. My other birthday friend started talking about his diagnosis and treatment for cancer. I had no idea this had happened - I have not seen him in a year or so. Immediately, I felt a pang of guilt that I had brought up such a difficult topic. Usually, I would beat myself up internally for DAYS about a faux pas like this. But as we talked, I realized that he seemed comfortable talking about it and I am certainly comfortable with topics of illness and death and what is real about life - I just felt like I had been insensitive for bringing it up.
Instead of obsessing about a mistake I made, I said to him, "I had no idea about your diagnosis. I'm so sorry to hear that happened. How are you doing now?" We continued talking and then eventually veered off into other topics. It was really a lovely evening. We got to midnight, wished him a happy birthday and started packing everything. I will write a note to both of them tomorrow and express my gratitude for welcoming me so warmly.
I'm glad I went. I think I did it in the right order, but even if I didn't, it was good. I don't have to make perfect decisions. I don't have to know everything or even pretend to know everything. My friends all know that I love them and celebrate them and that is the most important part of what I accomplished today.